WASHINGTON — Donald Trump and his top surrogates practiced something unusual Monday: subtlety.
After weeks of floating debunked conspiracy theories about Clinton’s health, Trump and his campaign instead said they sincerely hope the Democratic nominee is on the mend after being diagnosed with pneumonia.
“I hope she gets well soon. I don’t know what’s going on. I’m like you. I just see what I see — the coughing fit was a week ago, so I assume that was pneumonia also,” Trump said Monday on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends.” “So something is going on, but i just hope she gets well and gets back on the trail, and we’ll be seeing her at the debate.”
Trump said during the interview that he’ll soon make public the results of a doctor’s physical he had last week.
Clinton was pulled off the trail Sunday after “overheating” at a remembrance of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in New York. The subsequent revelation that she was diagnosed with pneumonia Friday has renewed questions about her transparency.
In a CNBC interview later Monday, Trump was slightly more pointed when he appeared to question the timing of the diagnosis.
“It was interesting because they say pneumonia on Friday, but she was coughing very, very badly a week ago, and even before that, if you remember. This wasn’t the first time. So, it’s very interesting to see what is going on. I want her to get better,” Trump said.
Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota that he hopes she’s doing alright, but quickly moved to praising Trump’s energy in contrast.
“I’ve always felt like I’ve stayed, you know, in good shape myself. This is a guy that has enormous stamina. I watch him move from city to city, event to event, engage robustly with a lot of people, and — and he’s a pretty amazing guy,” Flynn said Monday on “New Day.”
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway opened her thoughts Monday with sympathy for Clinton, before quickly turning it into an attack on the candidate’s chief weakness: perceptions of honesty and transparency.
“I would echo Mr. Trump’s statement that I just hope she’s feeling better and gets back on the trail soon,” Conway said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” before pivoting to a condemnation of how she handled the revelation she had pneumonia. “She’s still not transparent, she still won’t open herself up to the press, this nonsense that she respects what all of you do by having this phony press availability on the plane last week and then the moment that you really need to be with her, 90 minutes of radio silence. It took the entire day to get public the diagnosis that apparently she had received days earlier.”
The approach that did not fully embrace questioning the status of Clinton’s health and stamina stands in sharp contrast to comments the campaign made just weeks earlier. Trump re-tooled his primary attack on Jeb Bush for being “low energy” to use against Clinton this summer, saying she needs lots of sleep, making it a regular line in his rallies. He then challenged her, last month, to release her medical records.
Trump’s physician faced scrutiny from media reports — including CNN — which highlighted a 2015 letter he wrote vouching for Trump’s health which included what other doctors described as strange wording, medically incorrect terms and an unprofessional conclusion.